"I think we’re being betrayed by all of our national, and most of our state leaders."
By PHILLIP WILLIAMS
The Gilmer Mirror
Republican Gov. Rick Perry came under fire from some members of the Upshur County Republican Party in a meeting at Glenwood Acres Monday night over his support for the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor, and his order mandating HPV vaccinations for young girls.
The criticisms were leveled at the party’s monthly meeting, held at the rural Glenwood Acres subdivision clubhouse. About 15 persons attended.
Michael Sullivan of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility was scheduled to be the featured speaker, but could not attend after injuring his leg in some type of race Saturday, said GOP County Chairwoman Brenda Patterson. So she and others presented an update on pending state legislation.
John Melvin Dodd, a longtime Republican activist and the party’s nominee for county judge last November, accused Perry of campaigning for the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nomination, and declared, “I will not vote for the Republican ticket if Rick Perry is on it.”
Earlier, Dodd had said, “I voted for (President) George Bush. . . (but) I think we’re being betrayed by all of our national, and most of our state leaders” (because of their support for the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor, known as TTC).
All statewide elective offices are held by Republicans. Dodd said Mr. Bush, Perry, and Democratic leaders are “up to their eyeballs” in supporting the TTC.
He also said he had a feeling that Perry and Texas Department of Transportation Chairman Ric Williamson would get “filthy rich” off the proposed TTC, but “I can’t prove they’re going to make a penny off of it.” Dodd said he and Upshur County Pct. 1 Commissioner James Crittenden testified at a March 1 Texas Senate committee hearing in Austin on the corridor and related toll roads. The hearing attracted so many persons that the crowd filled four rooms, and 97 percent of those attending opposed the proposed superhighway, Dodd said.
Some billboards from TTC supporters hail it as the “second coming of Jesus Christ,” but “I think it’s one of the worst boondoggles in the history of the state,” Dodd asserted.
The project’s supporters say it is needed because the state’s population will increase greatly, the GOP activist said.
But that increase would result from illegal immigration, and “if we stop that, we’re not going to have these problems,” Dodd argued.
He also said TTC would be leased to a Spanish company, Cintra, which would pay $2 billion for it, and another $2 billion for a 50-year lease on Texas Hwy. 121 in the Denton area.
Thus, he said, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) says TTC “is the greatest thing since Post Toasties” for Texas since money is unavailable to build highways—which Dodd blamed on illegal immigration.
He said Cintra has taken over roads elsewhere in the United States, and can raise toll rates based on inflation.
Identical bills have been introduced in both houses of the Texas legislature to put a 2-year moratorium on the corridor, allowing the legislature more time to study what has “been done secretively,” Dodd said. He said the legislature passed “an awful lot of this” without knowing what it was.
He also said the public should be allowed to vote on whether to have toll roads, and that Perry and Williamson should not be “floating contracts.”
The legislature was inundated with protests of the TTC, so 25 of the 31 senators signed on to support the moratorium, as did 107 of the 150 members of the Texas House of Representatives, said Dodd. (The 107 included Upshur County’s representatives, State Sen. Kevin Eltife [R-Tyler], and State Rep. Bryan Hughes [R-Mineola], said Dodd).
However, State Sen. John Corona, a committee chairman, said the bill wouldn’t get out of committee, and introduced a bill to raise the current 20-cent-per-gallon state gasoline tax every Oct. 1 in order to build highways, Dodd said.
He said that bill would go after teacher retirement funds to put money in a private, non-governmental “Texas Transportation Company,” which would do much of what Cintra would do. Dodd criticized the bill, which is called SB 1929, but said some cosponsors of the moratorium legislation might not even vote for it.
Dodd said some type of pressure is being brought on legislators not to support the moratorium.
“We can still win the battle,” Dodd said, urging persons to call state legislators. “I can guarantee you Rick Perry will veto it unless he gets scared,” he added.
Crittenden meantime said TxDOT asserted it had tried to make the public aware of TTC on the Internet, but the commissioner said most East Texans get their information from other media.
In addition, he said thousands of acres of farm land could be impacted by TTC by forcing farm equipment to be moved, among other things. He also said certain aspects of TTC would be an “easy target” for terrorists.
Mrs. Patterson meantime criticized Perry’s recent executive order mandating vaccinations for sixth-grade girls against the sexually-transmitted HPV virus.
Noting the House had already voted 118-23 to kill the order, she predicted the Senate would follow suit, and she said Republican state Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott had issued an opinion that it was unenforceable.
While the order allows parents to opt out of having their daughters vaccinated, they must fill out paperwork saying why they don’t want the vaccine, Mrs. Patterson said. She said the vaccine “has not been properly tested,” and that the order “took the family out of the (decision-making) loop” when “this is a family issue.”
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